Macbeth Act 2, Scene 1: Is this a Dagger?

Hi Lazaro,

When exploring metaphors, the best process is to explain the literal meaning (this is the meaning on the surface, what the words are saying) and then explore the figurative meaning (this is the underlying meaning, the inferred information).

For example:

Macbeth: “A dagger of the mind”

In this metaphor Shakespeare uses the image of a dagger to represent the affliction that Macbeth feels in relation to his intention to kill King Duncan. It can be interpreted literally as a ‘dagger’ that is created by his mind, or it can be seen figuratively as a knife in his head, causing pain and anguish. He is indeed torn between his desire for the power and status of King of Scotland and the loyalty he feels towards Duncan who has only ever been generous to him.


‘Is this a dagger which I see before me’ In Act 2 Scene 1 An imaginary dagger appears before him, he starts to doubt himself and question his loyalty to the king. He goes back and forth hesitating if he should do it.’ I go, and it is done ; the bell invites me.’ This means that Macbeth has  finally killed Duncan and the bells of victory started riniging.

Act2 scene1

In the soliloquy in act2 scene1 Macbeth creates an image of a dagger just floating in front of him. ‘Is this a dagger which I see before me’ At first you would think that the witches created this image for him however, based on past events of Macbeth always questioning himself, we then realise that he was hallusinating. He starts to regret his decisions. ‘A dagger of the mind, a false creation’

act 1 scene 4

Macbeth says that he’ll need to kill the Prince of Cumberland’ as next in line. So Macbeth is thinking how is he going to be king if the prince is in my way and even though he is power hungry and wants to kill them he still feels this guiltiness and a sense of loyalty and feels ashamed of himself for thinking those thoughts. ‘Stars, hide your fires; let not light see my black and deep desires’ It suggests needs to hides his desires as they are showing too much.

‘As two spent swimmers that do cling together and choke their art’ This is a metaphor used by the soldier which shows imagery of the ‘two swimmers’ (being the two armies) and that they are ‘spent’ (tired), the soldier goes on to say ‘and choke their art’ it implies that the two swimmers are losing they’re energy, which means they start to drown and that results the two armies being in a tie or stalemate.


  • A man whose skull i’d crack wi’ this poker, like a claw of a lobster,
  • The simile means that compeyson is weak and Magwich is really strong. I think that also, since Magwich is a criminal he might be saying that he could kill him without hesitation. Lobster attack when they feel threatened and Magwich might of felt threatened by him.

chapter 19

Pip goes to buy a new suit. Pip even allows Pumblechook to take him out to dinner and ingratiate himself. He tries to comfort Joe, but his attempt is obviously forced, and Biddy criticizes him for it. Preparing to leave for London, he visits Miss Havisham one last time; based on her excitement and knowledge of the details of his situation, Pip feels even more certain that she is his anonymous benefactor. After a final night at Joe’s house, Pip leaves for London in the morning, suddenly full of regret for having behaved so snobbishly toward the people who love him most.

chapter 22

Pip asks Herbert to help him learn to be a gentleman, and, after a feast, the two agree to live together. Herbert subtly corrects Pip’s poor table manners, gives him the nickname “Handel,” and tells him the whole story of Miss Havisham. Miss Havisham adopted Estella, but Herbert does not know when or where.

chapter 21

Wemmick introduces Pip to Herbert Pocket, the son of Pip’s tutor, with who Pip will spend the night. Herbert and Pip take a liking to eachother; Herbert is cheerful and open, and Pip feels that his easy good nature is a contrast to his own awkward diffidence. But Pip’s fortune has been made for him, Herbert is an impoverished gentleman who hopes to become a shipping merchant. They realize, surprised, that they have met before: Herbert is the pale young gentleman who Pip fought in the garden at Miss Havisham’s

Chapter 17

Biddy moves in with Pip to help the recovery of Mrs Joe. Pip visits Ms Havisham again and realises how dull and boring it is without Estella. Pip invites Biddy for a walk, while walking he confesses how unsatisfied he is with his life and that although he likes Biddy he tells her how he loves Estella. Biddy tells him to stop following Estella and Pip gets angry at her, however he still gets jealous when Orlick flirts with Biddy.

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